Practicing Gratitude and How it Helps Do you want to feel better? Happier? Sleep better? Relax more? Feel less anxiety? Practicing gratitude could be the answer. In recent years, there has been more and more research on the practice of gratitude and how it makes an impact on each of the above concerns. It’s been shown to help people feel better, sleep better, relax more, and decrease anxiety.
The best news…it’s easy! There are so many ways to incorporate a gratitude practice into your day. It may be important to build a little structure into the practice but it can be as simple as counting to 10 before you go to bed.
Practicing gratitude right before you go to bed can be helpful to your sleep and even helps the way you wake up the next morning. People who have a before bed gratitude ritual say that their mood starts off better the following day. It’s typical for people to wake up reviewing their very lasts thoughts from the night before. If those last end of the day thoughts are filled with gratitude, it’d be no wonder that the next day we start out with the same mind set.
When I talk about gratitude and being grateful, there’s a whole range to what we can be grateful for each day. I think it’s nice to have variety and include the whole range in your practice. Try not to use too many repeats from day to day and certainly not within the same day because one thing that’s helpful is seeing the 5-10 different points of gratitude.
The range can be big…
- I liked my hair today
- Our dinner was delicious/fast/easy/simple/healthy
- We HAD dinner
- My house that keeps me safe
- The text my friend sent was at the exact right time and made me SMILE
- My relationship with ____
- Air conditioning
- The way I felt after I saw ______
- The sun came out after 10 days of cloudy rainy days
- This afternoon I had a break in my pain
- My mom/dad/sister/friend/spouse/child….
- Etc. etc. etc.
Once you get going, it may be hard to limit 5-10! You might even have a built in slot for naming one person who you are grateful for whether it’s a family member, friend, a member of your medical care team, the cashier at the grocery store who smiled at you…the list could go on!
Gratitude journals are a great way to engage in the practice. Set a number from 5-10 and start with a blank notebook. Keep it in your bedside table and start the habit. Each night, date the page and make a list of 5-10 things that make you feel gratitude. Remember, it can be anywhere on the range.
If writing is not your thing, don’t stress. Use your fingers and just count.
- Hold out your hands in front of you, fingers closed.
- One at a time, open a finger up and think in your head or say out loud one thing you are grateful for.
- Continue with each finger until you have open hands, fingers sprawled.
- Using your hands as a visual and a way to focus can be helpful. If you simply do this in your head, you can get lost in your other thoughts like a to do list or what is happening tomorrow, etc.
It’s really easy to get bogged down with all of the things we wish were different and all that is hard about life. Taking the time to reflect on the positives and what we are grateful for can make a huge difference. The research says so and after only a few weeks or days, I bet you will start to feel the difference.
If you are someone looking to find relief from stress, anxiety, trouble sleeping, and worry, there are therapists such as myself that specialize in supporting these needs. If you are looking for more support, please contact me here. I offer free 15 minute consultations where I’ll try to get an idea of what you are dealing with and how I can help. I can let you know if I think therapy would be a good fit for you. We will get a good sense of each other and can decide if I’m the best fit for you. Together we will make a plan for the next steps.